I'm a gifted adult survivor of child abuse by my adopted parents, who left me with chronic depression, PTSD, and a touch of autism for good measure. Here I examine the fragments of my past. It's enlightening but not pleasant. You've been warned.

If you want to see my lighter sides, here's a list of my other blogs:

We Have Always Lived in a Homeschool my blog about homeschooling my three gifted children

Lioness' Fandom

My Pinterest Boards where I express myself without words

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rare and ... Rare

"Have you ever heard of people saying, “this feels like it’s happening to someone else” or something to that effect? Now I can completely relate to that. I kind of feel like. Well, I don’t know exactly how to quantify it. It’s a new sensation.  Extremely weird, but not entirely unpleasant." - my newly-discovered maternal half-sister

"I have to admit, this is incredibly awkward, but I am happy to get to know you." - my newly-discovered paternal half-sister

"That is a picture of your grandmother.  If you want to know what she looked like when she was younger, look in the mirror.  You look just like her." - a great-uncle

"Who the Hell are you, where did  you come from, and what's this nonsense about a Promised Land?" - the Canaanites

I waited a week for my biological mother to call my biological father, then picked up the phone and called him myself. Guess what?  She hadn't called yet.  I told him she had given me his name, and that I was their daughter.  He was upset for a long time.  Not angry or anything, just reliving old traumas.  He has two younger children with his wife, so I now have gone from one sibling to five.  Our relationship is -- awkward.  He feels guilty but won't say it.  I could give  him every reason to feel guilty, but I don't want to drive him away so I won't say it either.  Upshot:  there's a lot of things unsaid.

The next day my birth mother called my birth father and talked to him.  They affirmed for each other that they had done the right thing by me and felt really good about it.

Nobody asked me my opinion.  I didn't give it either.

His wife is disabled.  I don't know if she's been told that I'm back.  She went to school with my biological mother, so I don't see how she couldn't know about me being born.  But maybe I'm still supposed to be a modern-day secret.

A few weeks after that was my mother's family's reunion.  I had been invited back in the spring, and since then, as curiosity about me grew in the family, had morphed into the star attraction.  The week before I was so excited I didn't sleep a wink.  One morning I poured sweet tea over my breakfast cereal.

More people showed up than had come in ages.  Some were genuinely curious to meet me, others just wanted to see the curiosity, still others came for the food.  But for the first time in my life I was surrounded by people who had my nose, my hair, my height.  That did some good.

None of the immediate family was there, it was all cousins.  My mother had begged off at the last minute in spite of being provided with free transportation, claiming she had forgotten she had a medical test scheduled on that day for a rather severe condition.  But one woman looked like a photo of my mother had looked ten years ago and dressed like I do when I'm feeling good, so there's that.  I made her uncomfortable telling her that, so we didn't talk again.

I was connected to the attendees through my maternal grandmother.  I was told to solicit stories about her, but when I did people laughed uncomfortably and changed the subject.  Apparently her name is still used as a synonym for a bossy woman.  Pity, we might have gotten on well.  Or at least had some memorable arguments.

And that's where things stand.  My parents are relieved to find out that I am alive and well, but uncomfortable with me, our situation, or both.  Some people are glad to get to know me.  Others don't know what to make of me. Still others wish I had never been born.  For others I'm a curiosity.

It's a complex, delicate negotiation adoptees find themselves in, trying to place themselves within the context of the actual people in our biological family.   Unfortunately the stesses that come from being an adoptee lead to a lack of validation of our feelings and an inability to connect with others.  My people skills are essentially nonexistent.  Thus, the very skills we need the most in reunion are the very ones we have the least.  That hurts.

Dealing with all this proved very painful.  I spent most of the summer and into fall as a walking basket case.  The pain has gradually subsided, although it flares up on occasion, such as when I  come across mention of an interesting relative who died before I could find them.  My distraction of choice has been Animal Crossing New Leaf; I don't even want to look up how many hours I've logged in on that.  But the time I spend with it is slowly diminishing.  I'm still terribly absent-minded though.  It's hard to read for any length of time, or remember anything.  And I really shouldn't be trusted with any handheld electronics other than my 2DS.

But painful as it has been, I'm still glad I did it.  Most of the relatives I've met have been pleasant, and even the unpleasant people are easier to mentally grapple with than phantoms.  Wrestling with facts, even painful ones, is so much better than wrestling with nothingness.  In that slot at the back of my head labelled "Where I Came From" there is now information, not half-formed guesses.  That is huge.

It's just that the nature of the (entirely artificial) situation is like walking into a room where you are going to be the guest of honor at a party through a door that has a bucket of mop water perched on top of it.  I have to get through the door, and there's no way I can avoid the dirty water.  I don't like that, and I'm not too happy about the people who set it up, and the fact that they didn't mean to set it up isn't going to keep me one speck cleaner.

But one big mystery remains.  How did I come to be -- me?  What parts are biology, environment, and sheer will?

I'm a fairly standard-issue female INTP (brainy, absent-minded, socially awkward, fanatically honest and obsessed with the truth), albeit generously leavened with developmental trauma.  Except there's nothing standard about female INTPs, at 1% - 2% of the population we are more rare than hen's teeth.  In spite of genetics, they don't seem to be any more common in my biological families.  While they may be in hiding (we are introverts after all) it appears the last one before me came of age in the Great Depression.  So, IDK, is there something latent in the genes that only manifests as INTPs under extreme stress?  Do we only appear **drops voice dramatically** "When the Need is Great"?  DUN DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!

Great theory, except for the fact that female INTPs are the least popular personality/gender combination on the planet  (Really, people.  That dreadfully underestimates the damage an S dedicated to an evil cause can do.)

I'm being maudlin.  That's not going to help.

Whachu mean by that?  It helps me deal, so chill!

**deep breath** Get it together now....  My thoughts are whirling around like fish in a bubble net.

Still, it's a valid question.  How much of my obsession with the truth comes from something in my genes and how much is from being so thoroughly lied to at such a young age?

And if it is something in my genes, is it something hard-coded in, or something emergenic, that depends on a randomly occurring combination of traits and/or circumstances?  Is it just -- one of those things?
"One of those BELLS that now and then RINGS,

It was just one of those things."

 I don't know the answer.  I know more than when I started out, but nothing definitive in that regard.  Typical.

Gradually more of my internal CPU is starting to kick free of this conundrum and show up for other work.  This is great.  "Hey Brain, long time no see!  How have you been?  I've missed you!  Tell my creativity I miss her as well!"  There's still a few more posts on this topic that need to be made, but I'm ready to move away from it being the bulk of my attention.

(And not a moment too soon, my house looks like it's auditioning for Great Expectations.)

And I don't want to sound too surly, most people I've met have been wonderful.  I'm just not used to having so many wonderful relatives!

Now I have to figure out what to do with all these extra people in my life.  Y'know all those feel-good movies that end with the curmudgeonly hermit making a ton of new friends?  Notice how they always roll the credits before they show how he copes with the sudden jump in social stimulation.  Why is that?  :P

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mixed Blessing

I haven't posted lately because I've been down with the flu.  The good news is it's not psychosomatic for once.  I know this because the whole family's got it!

The bad news is the whole family's got it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Story

After a couple weeks of "phone tag" I got up with my mother.  She talked a bit about being at the maternity home with me, even though she couldn't remember the name.  Apparently her mother wrote either Ann Landers or Dear Abby for a recommendation as to where to send her.  I may have made the paper before I was even born.  Thanks Ann -- not!

So after she got pregnant she and my father talked about getting married.  She's Protestant and he's Catholic.  They went to see the priest, who would only marry them if I was reared Catholic.  My mother balked at that, and the wedding was off.  Thanks Roman Catholic Church -- not!

But she says my father knows about me and is a real nice guy, and offered to call him for me if I gave her his number, which I did.  That's a relief off me.  It felt good, until everything slotted into place.

Because if everybody and his buddy knew about me, and everybody and his buddy were all real nice people, then the problem comes down to this:  none of those real nice people was willing to fight for me.  Not one.  And that fact is an absolutely devastating thing to have to face.  I haven't stopped crying, and I don't think I will for a while.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fracture Reduction

AKA "Shit gets real."

"Fracture reduction" is the fancy term for resetting a broken bone that's healed the wrong way.  Somebody breaks a bone.  They should lie up and have someone else take them immediately to the doctor, but that doesn't always happen.  Maybe they can't get to the doctor, maybe there's no doctor around, maybe they have to use that broken bone anyway just to get by until they can find a doctor.  Whatever.

So when they finally get to the doctor's office, what happens?  The doctors get out the bone saw and the knives and takes the broken bone back apart.  They "break" it again into at least as many parts as the first time, if not more.  They have to do this in order to set it properly.  It's the only way they can ever hope to restore the limb to full functioning.

But the pain is out of this world.  The patient screams and struggles, fighting to escape from the excruciating suffering.  Knowing it's the only way to regain the full use of their body does nothing to spare them from the agony they are going through.

That's sort of what's been going on inside my head the last two months.

Between abandonment and bad parenting my spirit was shattered at such a young age I never knew what it felt like to be whole.   But broken or not, I still had to get around.  I glued my psyche back together as best as I could with what I had on hand and went about the business of growing up.  I didn't know which pieces went where, but I tried.  Over time things fused into an ugly but functional mess.

Now I know more about how the pieces are supposed to fit together.  The old glue is coming undone, and the pieces are starting to slide around into a better fitting alignment.  I'll be a stronger person when it's done.

But right now the pain is out of this world.

It isn't that anyone's been mean to me. I spent a weekend listening to stories from my First Cousin and his wife at their vacation home, and met some other cousins.  And a few days past my 48th birthday I got a phone call out of the blue from my mother.  We made awkward but functional small talk for a few minutes in spite of my pulling the phone out of the wall and breaking a pen trying to write down her contact information, and promised to get back in touch later.  And then I went to bed and was a complete basket case for the next two weeks, because it took 48 fucking years before I heard the sound of my mother's voice.

No, everyone's been perfectly lovely.  And that's the problem.

The reason given for closed adoption in the first place is that absolutely dreadful parents who couldn't cope on their own.  Both of my parents were married within a year of my birth, and began having children within two years who have all turned out to be fine adults.  While none of them are saints, there doesn't appear to be a real ogre in either set.

But if there are no ogres out there that I had to be protected from, then how the bloody hell do you justify what was done to me?  What reasons were so compelling that it excused subjecting me to a childhood full of alienation and abuse?

Misogyny and greed.  I can't think of anything that doesn't come down to a fancy way of saying misogyny and greed.

Other adoptees warned me that the emotional pain skyrocketed after reunion.  When the loss stops being ambiguous, it becomes acute.  Then you know for a fact that it didn't have to be like that, it could have been like this.  While this wouldn't have been perfect, it would have been a damn sight better than that.  I'm grateful for the warning, as I'm not sure I could have survived these past few weeks if such intense grief had caught me unawares.

As it was I was all but incapacitated, to the exasperation of my loving but very put-upon family.  At least my body spared me the physiological drama-queen antics of the past fall.

I had a dream while writing this.  I dreamed I was walking around with my brain exposed to the open air, to give it a chance to heal from deep lacerations that had been made to it.  And then my six year-old son wanted to run around with  his brain exposed as well, and ended up nearly cutting through his brain stem.  **sigh**

I'm going to take it as a sign that I'm getting better.  Maybe the poison is finally working its way out my body, and not a moment too soon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

DNA Mathces Part 3: Overloaded

Part 1
Part 2

Usually things get easier to write about over time.  Not this time.  It's getting harder.

My First Cousin (technically he's not, but he'll always be my Very First Cousin) was eager to help me.  He's an elderly man in poor health, who needed the mental stimulation such a puzzle provided.  He's been very encouraging, even as my moods have swung like a weather-vane in storm.

I'm one of the least emotional people you'll ever meet, although I'm self-aware enough to realize that for me this symptom is a sign of an underlying problem.  But here I was obsessively combing through genealogies and bursting into tears at every photograph.  I desperately wanted to know who these people were, what their stories told about them, and how their stories related to my stories.   I craved the stories grownups swapped while visiting and told to the kids on the porch during long afternoons.

I cried the first time I spoke to First Cousin on the phone.  It was the first time I'd heard the voice of a blood relation I hadn't given birth to.

But I'm still me, capable of burying myself in data to the exclusion of the outside world.  So I was hard at work in trying to figure out my father's genealogy when my First Cousin emailed me that he had a possible lead on my mother, a young woman the right age at the right place in the right time and a promising genealogical match.  I wrote back, "Great!  I'm tracking down leads on the other end!" and went back to work.

Hours later the meaning behind his words hit me.  I was a basket case for the next three days.  Fortunately it was spring and I could pull weeds to my heart's content, as I wasn't fit for much else.

We narrowed it down to two good leads and a wild card.  First Cousin made inquiries, but no one knew anything.  A lot of interest was raised in me however.  I became the hottest topic of gossip they'd had in ages, and my promise to show up at this fall's family reunion caused promises of attendance to jump.

I was just thrilled to get the invitation, but also amused on another level.

After my finances recovered from Ancestry's price tag, it was time to get the second of the Big 3 gene-matching tests, 23&Me.  They're more science oriented instead of history oriented.  First your Neanderthal percentage shows up (2.7%), then your cousins start to trickle in.  Many of the same profiles were there, but I did find another cousin fifteen years older than I am who was also adopted and searching for her biological family.  We've had a great time swapping stories.

Then one day there was a bright red link at the top of my cousins' list.  It said "Close Relations".  I clicked on it and a warning popped up.  "Going any further might tell you things you don't want to know."  Thanks, but that's what I signed up for.  I clicked on it.

Up popped a name I'd never seen before, designated my "niece".  Who, what?  She had the exact same mitochondrial DNA as I do, indicating a close maternal relative.  I looked up the alternate designations for a match that close:  "grandchild, niece or nephew, double first cousin, or half-sibling".  I double-checked my genealogy.  The only one of those that made any sense in the given context was half-sibling.

Oh My God.

The first name was the same as the daughter of one of the two good leads. She must have married.  I wrote her a quick, "Hi, let's get acquainted!" note.  She didn't answer.  Days went by.  Okay, maybe she didn't check 23&Me that often.  I set about trying to find another contact point for her.

Google came up with two women in America with her name, and one lived near her  hometown and was the right age.  I took a deep breath and called her up.

She'd never heard of 23&Me and had no idea what I was talking about.

After it sunk in that she was telling the truth, I put the phone down and tried to deal with my embarrassment and grief.  Immediately I got a message from First Cousin that the woman I was looking for had moved to Canada.


First Cousin got the contact information, and introduced me as someone looking for genealogical information.  She hadn't bothered to look at the genealogical information on 23&Me, just the health information.  She didn't have a clue what our "close" relationship meant, so I said we could talk about other things and save that for later.

We spent a week and a half chatting intensively.  Unbelievably, she has the same number of children the same ages as I do, has also homeschooled, lives in a similar town, and moved with her husband into a trailer that's the same make and almost the same model as ours, only wider.

Giving her time to adjust, not blurting everything out all at once, was a constant stress.  Every time she commented on our resemblance I wracked my brains to come up with a neutral comment to make.  It worked, but I burned five meals in a week from the strain.  There's no way I could have done this in my younger days; I didn't have the patience or self-control.

Meantime, she friended me on Facebook, which gave me access to her journal.  I read about her life, and her view of her mother.  It's clear her mother -- our mother -- is troubled in certain ways.  Becoming a birthmother is toxic to the soul, and she has every negative psychological symptom associated with repressing such a trauma.  Reading about her troubles was like going down a checklist.

I'm saddened, but not surprised.

Finally she's ready to go over the findings.  I break it down for her as simply and gently as I can, then point out that her mother's constellation of problems is associated with being an unacknowledged birthmother.  I sent the email and sat back, hoping she believed me.

She did.

After she got over the shock, she called her parents.  Her -- our -- mother confirmed the news, said she had told her husband-to-be when they met (they married shortly before my first birthday) but they hadn't told their children, said she was too traumatized by what had happened to remember much (not uncommon), but gave the name of my father.

So, all's mostly well on that front.  My sister and I have had several long conversations.  She's excited to finally have a sister at this late date, and grateful to know the cause of our mother's condition.  Our mother isn't up to talking yet, but that's to be expected.  It may be several months before she's ready.  But I've been welcomed into the family and told her husband would not have objected to rearing me.

That is huge.  It meant my childhood didn't have to be the way it was.  There might have been someone around on the same wavelength as me.  I didn't have to be alone.  I probably would still have been an oddball, but not an alien.

There's also a severe grief associated with that fact, and anger.  This is what I should have had; and a bunch of prissy, greedy, no-nothing busybodies took it away from me.  It's going to take a while for that emotional constellation to settle out as well.

Without the trauma of relinquishment, my mother would doubtless be in better shape today.  I don't know if she had problems beforehand, but that certainly didn't help any.  Although even with problems she didn't do that bad rearing my brother and sister, so she wasn't incapacitated or anything.

Of course now other cousins are starting to "remember" the details they had "forgotten" earlier.  Sheesh.

A few days ago I took a break from the constant emailing to give my feelings time to catch up.  I guess I feel elated; it's hard to say with all the stirred-up muck my emotions have to traverse these days to make it to my consciousness.  There's a few tons of shock, and the stress of having to adjust to new relationships.  It's similar to becoming a stepmother, only to two different families at the same time and on top of enormous other strains.

I've felt emotionally overwhelmed before, but always with negative emotions.  It's a numbness with barbs attached.  I've always sneered at Pink Floyd's phrase, "comfortably numb"; there's nothing comfortable about feeling too worn out to hurt anymore.  This is a numbness without barbs.  There's some trepidation, but that's common with any new relationship.  It will take time for everything to sort out, but I knew that going in.

I haven't mentioned that I was an abused child yet.  I  will have to keep that from my mother until she gets over the initial shock.  I may have to keep it from her forever.  Time will tell.

Meantime I feel strange.  More solid, like I'm not about to float away in the first stiff breeze.  There are people who look like me and to a certain extent think like me that I can compare notes with.  That's new.  I can now sort out what's unique to me and what I share with other people.  I never really had that opportunity before, as what was unique to me then was "everything".

I'm working on approaching my father.  I'll get back to you on that effort later.

Monday, June 9, 2014

DNA Matches Part 2

Part 1

PTSD blankets my emotions with numbness.  It's hard to feel any emotion, I think them more than I sense them. Unexpected strong emotions tend to cause an automatic whole-body shutdown response.  But this was so unexpected it blew through my automatic defenses like they weren't even there.

It had been a few weeks since I was told that my results would be ready in a month and a half.  I checked the site everyday, but the expectation of seeing anything had long since slumbered.  I almost forgot to check that Saturday when I remembered it before running off to do some outdoor work.

I logged on to, expecting to see the now-familiar white page with a tiny "come back later" notice.  Instead I saw colors.  There were greens, beige, browns, oranges, blues, pinks, blacks, and even a few tiny full color photographs.  Some of the colors formed words, but I couldn't read them, too shocked to see that there was something -- quite a lot of something -- there at all.

The page was full.  How could the page be full?  My origin had always been a blank page, how could it be full?

How could there be enough to fill a page?

How could there be enough to fill a page and I not know any of it?

Slowly the words started to make sense.  There was one word repeated over and over -- "cousin".

"First cousin."

"Second cousin."

"Third cousin."

"Fourth cousin."

I had never had any cousins before who wanted to do anything with us.  What the hell was a cousin anyway?  At that moment I could not have told you the definition of the word if you had held a gun to my head.

My mind was completely blown. "Come here!" I shouted, "Come here!"  But everyone was outside or playing video games on the other end of the house.

I scrolled to the end of the page.  It said Page 1  -- of 168????!!!

I'd been told most adoptees were lucky to find a single third cousin, how could I have 168 pages worth?

It was too much.  I retreated to the ethnicity page to calm down.  That said British -- a little over half, some Iberian, tiny bits of Scandinavian and Irish -- what would be expected if my non-identifying information of "half English, half French-English" was correct.

So those evil wretches at the adoption agency had told the truth about one thing.  Good to know.

I took a deep breath and went back to the match page.

The first one was a "first cousin/second cousin" match, and listed as being available to help others with genealogy.  Brain go splodey time....

I stopped, pulled up a blank file, and began madly copying and collating.  I had to make my own list in case someone took this one away from me.

Think that's irrational?  Why?  They did it once before.

I had one 1st-2cnd cousin, 1 2cnd-3rd cousin, 6 3rd-4th cousins, 86 4th-6th cousins, and page after page of possible (margin of error here) distant cousins.

I had to look; I couldn't stay still.  I was leaping in and out of my seat like a Jack-in-the-box.  My family finally joined me.  I turned the computer over to my husband.  I ran out of the house, craving fresh air, needing to move.

My five year-old ran after me.  After a few yards I turned around and went back for his sake, but if he hadn't been there I don't know how long I would have wandered the roads in a daze.  I wasn't sure I could look after myself at that moment, let alone him.

I got hugs from my husband.  I went online and got moral support from sister adoptees.  When my nerve was high and before it could crash again,  for the first time in my life I got to emailing my cousins.

The first person I wrote turned out to be solid gold.  A first-second cousin and an experienced genealogist willing to help newbies, he wasn't the least put off by my adoptee status but dove straight in to trying to help me find my roots.  He has a huge tree for me to wander though.  We speak to each other most days, and it's always a pleasure to hear from him.

The second one said he didn't know anything, don't bother him again.  I believed that, until a few weeks later I found out that he is a noted genealogist for the other side of my family who has published a book on the family genealogy.  I guess bastards don't count in his book.

The rest of the people fell in between.  I spent most of the week just prowling around family trees, looking at photographs and learning stories.  The photographs were a revelation.  It took a while before I stopped crying whenever I saw one.

The next Friday I told my therapist what had happened.  He asked me what I was feeling.  I told him it was something big, but I couldn't put a name to it.  It took the poor man an hour and fifteen minutes before I could bring myself to realize it was overwhelming joy.

I spent another week looking and learning stories.  The family had been poor during the Depression, but they had done well for themselves since then, and many of them were now professional class people, lawyers and doctors.  They were doing quite well for themselves.  That tickled me after all the years of being told I wasn't good for anything.

Two Saturdays after my results came in the other shoe dropped.  I woke up in the morning to find one of the analytical insights that I get in place of PTSD flashbacks waiting to slot into place:

They were doing good.  They had some money, contacts, education.  They had choices.  That meant ditching the infant me wasn't a case of them being poor and not having choices.

They had choices.  And having choices, they chose to throw me away.


The gentleman's agreement between my mind and my heart that we weren't going to to go there splintered into a thousand shards, and all of them pieced my soul.  The pain hurt like nothing I'd ever dreamed of, like half my body had been sheared away and what was left was one giant aching wound.  I wanted to scream, not just at the top of my lungs but with every cell in my body.  I realized I had been screaming for a very long time and not letting myself hear me.

Bereft.  I used to think I knew what the word meant, but I was wrong.  Now I knew.

I didn't know why they threw me away.  I didn't know the story.  But it wasn't the easily forgivable one of being poor and having no options.  I grieved for the termination of that possibility.  I mourned the loss of the easy answer more than I had mourned any death save that of my son.

I had to go shopping that day.  I walked around town with tears streaming down my face, babbling my story to complete strangers, too wrapped up in agony to care one whit.

But the thing I didn't say, the thing that if it had come out would have been screamed to the heavens so loud they'd have called the police, was, "What the Hell is the point of having resources if you can't keep your family together?"

IDK, maybe I'm betraying my lower-middle class upbringing here, but --- seriously?  Nobody could have used those resources to figure out a way to at least keep me in the family?

They threw me away.  They dumped me before they even had a chance to know me, before they gave me any sort of chance.

I'd been dumped in college.  It was, "Well that stunk, but it's also an (unpleasant) learning opportunity.  I need to find the part of me that's attracted to that sort of person and switch it off so this never happens again."  And I did, and I'm a better person for doing that.

But we're talking about the primal connection between baby and mother, the foundation of our connection to humanity in general.  You can't just switch that off without ended up a psychopath.  Granted, that does explain why so many serial killers are adoptees, but I've no wish to go down that route.  But leaving the connection open means continuing to hurt like -- there are no words for what its like.

But time has applied a local anesthetic to the wound.  It usually doesn't hurt quite so much unless I do something like, oh, rake over the memories and try to write down what I'm feeling.

But better out than in.  The unexamined thoughts and emotions were taking up an inordinate amount of my internal landscape.  Getting them outside makes me feel - empty.  But light.  And I can feel thousands of hairline cracks in my psyche starting to heal.

Which is good, because there were more challenges ahead.  But give me time to recover from finishing this entry first.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chop Wood, Carry Water -- But Stay Out of the Poison Oak

Searching for my biological family is extremely stressful.  Fortunately this time of  year my garden can absorb all the nervous energy I can throw at it.  But it demands more attention than I gave it recently when distracted by my personal distress I blundered into poison oak and ended up covered in a rash.  The medicine they put me on leaves my too drowsy to write my next post.  Sorry for the delay, will get back to it in a few days.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DNA Matches Part 1: So I Didn't Drop In From an Alien Planet After All!

I took a DNA test to learn about my biological relatives and found out some things.

Let's start with the basics, shall we?  I found out I was a human being, homo sapiens sapiens (at least mostly, I haven't compared it with the non-human samples yet.)  This actually was a concern for my younger self.  There were no people around who looked or acted like me in my adopted family or in the society around us, and everyone was quick to point out how weird and alien I was.  So what's a kid supposed to think?  Where was the evidence I hadn't fallen off a UFO?  I became sensitive to attempts to "other" me or anyone else.

My questionable humanity became a sore spot in adolescence.  I played D&D in my teens and I noticed this huge disconnection between myself and some of the other players.  A lot of players never, ever wanted to play a human character.  They despised humanity.  It disgusted them.  For them, the whole point of playing D&D was to explore the possibility that they were not human.  At least not wholly human, safe within the confines of a RPG game.

I stubbornly insisted on only playing characters who were 100% human, which caused a certain amount of consternation among the anti-human crew.  Everyone else thought I was weird for playing D&D in the first place, and they thought I was weird for how I played D&D.  There was nowhere I felt at home, nowhere I felt safe.

Looking back, I realize safety was the core issue.  They were normal adolescents who felt confident enough in their own identity that they could start to take on and explore other identities.  I wasn't.  They knew where they had come from; I did not.  They were secure enough in their humanity that they could reject it, but I always had this tiny doubt that maybe I really had fallen off Witch Mountain.

Of course they would have been highly insulted if anyone had pointed this out to them at the time.  Daring to be different was strictly a sign of their own courage in the face of overwhelming social conformity, not of any underlying safety net.

And for some kids it was, but not for most of them.

 Just like some teens had these huge fights with their parents over reasons that seemed oh-so-important to them at the time but other people could plainly tell were mainly because they felt confident enough in their parents' unconditional love that they knew they weren't going to be kicked out of the house for it.  I obsessed day and night over telling my abusive adoptive parents off, and day and night I reminded myself that I had nowhere else to go and no way to survive on my own.

I secretly seethed at both groups.  It made me furious that they could get away with doing things like that because they had a safety net and I did not.  I couldn't even tell other people how precarious my own safety was without potentially making the situation worse by calling attention to it.

 And that was the real problem, not the other kids.

So anyway, I 'm glad to have actual confirmation that I really am a human being.  But that wasn't my first thought when I saw my DNA matches.  It wasn't even my hundredth or thousandth thought.

My first thought was utter and complete mindblowing shock.

To be continued....

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Searcher's Two-Step

Y'know this whole adoption searching business would go a lot faster if finding out some little fact didn't leave me too broke up to do squat the next day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dear Phantom Birthmother,

We need to talk.

I know you're not big on talking.  You've been the silent ghost hovering in the background all my life, your absence a constant presence.

Frankly, I would have preferred Banquo's Ghost, or King Hamlet.  They were explicable and helped move the plot along.  You have always been a cypher.  What did you want?

Nothing, I was told.  That's why you weren't there, after all.  I was told that I was an impediment to the life you wanted to live, a pothole in the road of your journey that you had sped on past and forgotten.  I was better off without you, I was told.

I really shouldn't spend much time thinking about you, I was told.  And I didn't.  Think about you, that is.  Not much.  As little as possible, and I'd stop myself whenever my subconscious tried to bring it up.

I always tried to follow the rules.  Would you have liked that in me?

But there's more to life than thought.  I didn't think about you, but I missed you with an ache that never went away.

I've heard the line about "real Mommies" and how my adoptive Mommy deserved that title.  Leaving aside all other questions, do you honestly think I couldn't tell the difference?  Sure I shut up crying and comforted myself by drinking myself to sleep, because that's what babies do.

Didn't mean I forgot I'd been snookered.

Thus you were born within days of my birth, a defined void where the other part of me should have been.

I forget that you're younger than me.  I feel so old.

And into that void fell all my love for you, all my anger, my confusion, my sorrow, my grief, my self-hatred, my questions....

So many questions.

No wonder you couldn't fade and blow away, not with all that energy powering you.

That's why we need to talk.  Or if you're not going to talk, at least listen.

I was "good" if you define that as me doing what I was told.  Maybe too good a lot of the time.  I have let you get on with your life without me for nearly 50 years.  I think I've reached the end of any reasonable statue of limitations on the crime of being born.

In doing so I have deprived myself of not just you, but of my -- our -- past and extended family.

And it is our history, our family.

I know you felt justified at the time.  I know the pressure the culture put on you.  However, I do not think it is fair that you decided to disown me before you got to know me.

Nor was it right to cut me out of the larger family.

I don't want money.

I want kin.  If you've never been without them, even if they didn't want anything to do with you, you have no idea what their absence means.

I hope to meet you on this journey.  The real you, not the ghost you.  But meet you or not I am still going.

Hope to see you soon.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Homeless Jesus Statue

I have found the Homeless Jesus statue that's been in the news lately to be an incredibly powerful work of art. For one thing, this is a statue of a God who is needs help. Some people find that very disturbing, but I find it liberating. A God who asks for my help is a God who acknowledges my position as a grownup, an independent agent capable of providing help. It's not a God who sees me as a helpless child or a hopeless sinner. At the same time it resonates with me because of my position as an adoptee. In that respect I am the outsider who needs help. How will others treat me? What are your thoughts on the work?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Frankenfamily Part 2: The Terror of the 98th Percentile

Part 1

This is so hard to talk about.  I've tried before, but I've never found the right words.  Although as much as it hurt to be misunderstood, at least the misunderstandings helped me understand it better.

I hope that made sense.  It boils down to, "This is gonna be long."  This draft has taken three weeks to knock out, but prior versions have been kicking around for 37 years.

Growing up, I had three problems to deal with:  figure out the world around me, make friends, and since I couldn't "fix" my parents get someone to do something about their disturbing behavior.  By elementary school the first one was coming along nicely, but the other two were stalled out.

I'm not ready to blog about the third one today.  Suffice to say that I kept trying to tell trusted adults that something was wrong with my parents only to be told time and again that something was wrong with me for thinking that way.  Over and over again the adults I considered the best, the smartest, the most reliable, the most admirable, the most trustworthy told me that the problems I saw were not caused by something systemic in my family but were all in my head.  I was the problem, not them.

That betrayal of trust cut to the bone, especially in a child.  Most especially in an adopted child at a time and place where society  automatically assumed adoptive parents to be saints and adoptive children to be genetic "defectives" with sealed records preventing any possible refutation of that assumption.

***break for a bawling-eyes-out crying session***

Anyway, back to number two.

I tackled all three problems with the enthusiasm only a fresh-faced child can muster, but by elementary school it was clear something wasn't working in the "making friends" department.  I talked to other children, but they didn't seem to understand what I was saying.  My pronunciation was good, my grammar was excellent, but my comments only provoked silence or derision.  And nobody laughed at my jokes.  I soon became the object of everyone else's jokes.

And it wasn't just children.  I was starting to get the same response from grown-ups.

Even in my own family.

I tried to empathize with the other children, but that didn't work either.  I couldn't understand why at the time it was so hard for me to understand them and for them to understand me.  Looking back now, I can see that there were two separate issues standing in my way.  I was different from them in some ways, and my abusive adoptive family was different from their families in other, (literally) unrelated ways.  That didn't leave much room for common ground.

I learned not to rely on empathy or trust my feelings.  I learned to live from the neck up.

The people who understood I was being teased mercilessly (nobody used the term "bullied") told me they understood the situation and to buck up, it would get better over time.  But while they may have understood "the situation" they didn't understand me.  They didn't realize, or didn't want to realize when I tried to tell them, that the same thing was happening at home.  I didn't have a safe harbor to retreat to.  And it got worse over time, not better.

It wasn't long before I withdrew into the only place people weren't laughing at me, books.  I pretty much gave up on the rest of the world.  That decision hurt a lot, but I felt like I had no choice.

Not long after that I went from being an A student to being a straight-D student.  My parents didn't care, and as long as I had a fresh book on me I was what passed for content.  Books were my drug of choice to lessen the pain of alienation.  In second grade I started sneaking out of class to go to the library.  Picture books were too damn short.  I craved chapter books.  I needed worlds that wouldn't abandon me in a mere thousand words.

Fourth grade brought some changes.  I was diagnosed as "gifted", and placed in a special class with kids and a teacher I could actually talk to.  I didn't believe it at first, but when it didn't fade away like an illusion I started slowly coming out of my shell in fifth grade.

Mom had an even harder time believing it than I did.  First she insisted for years that the testers had made a mistake, or that actually my sister was the more better student and better child. Then I seemed to graduate into a sort of specialized servant/entertainer role.  I was allowed enrichment opportunities if they would either serve her, entertain her, or grant her social credit.

(Later I realized that she was complaining about me to outsiders who were pressuring her into giving me enrichment opportunities by threatening to withhold social credit if she didn't.  Decades later after I had moved away and had children of my own this dynamic apparently evolved into a vicious sport.  Her peers would threaten to withhold social credit if she didn't act like a "proper" grandmother, she got very good at avoiding doing things with or for my family, and her peers got very good at twisting the knife over her avoidance tactics.  That was pretty much our relationship up until her death.)

But I was still ten years old before I had anyone I could talk to on any level other than the most basic.

Think about that for a minute.  Think about spending the first ten years of your life with no one who would talk to you beyond telling you what to do or caring for your most basic needs.  You can talk to them, but they either don't listen to you or react negatively towards you for saying anything.  No positive reaction to what you say or do unless you're being blindly obedient, and that's just an acknowledgement that you did what you were told.

No one to share with or care about your innermost thoughts, your authentic self.

That sort of isolation, of alienation, is a kind of Hell.  Some say Hell is other people, but that's not quite right.  Hell is other people -- who don't really care about you.

Some gifted kids learn how to  dumb themselves down in order to make friends, but I never found enough common ground with non-gifted children to learn the trick.  I don't know if it was because of abuse issues or if I was the gifted equivalent of the flaming queen trying to pass as heterosexual, but it never worked.  And what kind of friends would they be anyway if they didn't want to know the real me?

After it sunk in that the gifted class wasn't a trick, there were other people out there like me and I was going to be allowed to spend time with them, I was thrilled.  My exile was over!  With the optimism of youth I thought it could only get better from here.

But I only had a few minutes I could actually spend with kids like me, and it wasn't enough time to get to know anyone or make friends.  It was a taste, but a taste is not a meal.

But where else could I find people like me?  I didn't get out much, and the types of places that attracted smart, creative people weren't the types of places my parents would take me.  Still, there was hope, right?

About then we started taking the CAT test in school, which amounted to an unusual but innocuous diversion for me.  Then the results came in.  I scored in the 98th percentile.  Everyone went "Yay!"  I went "Yay" too, because everyone else was doing it.  But I didn't have a clue what it meant.

Turns out it meant I tested out as smarter than 98% of the people who took the test.  Okay, but what did that mean?

If I was smarter than 98% of the population, then only 2% of the population was as smart as me.

That meant there was only 2% of the population that I could really connect with.



That meant I had to be around 100 people before I could even find one single person to talk to!   Anything smaller, forget it.  And I hated crowds!

And that's just finding a person to possibly talk to.  There's no guarantee that person will be anywhere near my age or have anything like my interests.

And I'll have to actually find them in that crowd of 100 people!  And as a kid I was seldom in any group that size, and when I was I was usually under strict orders to stay with my handlers.

But more importantly, it meant this isolation and alienation were going to stay with me my whole life.  There was no escape, no end to my exile.  I was always going to be alone, with no one around who understood me.

And that's when I became suicidal.

I tried talking about this moment over the years, but other people didn't understand.  "Didn't you feel that way?" I asked a gifted woman my age.

"Nah," she shrugged.  "I just blew it off and went home to my family."

I wanted to smash my head through a brick wall.  She went home to her family.  Her family who were gifted like she was, who understood her, who comforted her and explained things to her, who provided her with a secure home base to strike out into the world from and a safe harbor to return to when she needed it.

I didn't have that.  Not only did I not have parents or siblings like that, I didn't have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins like that to turn to when I needed them.  I had no tribe, and that lack left a hole inside me that nothing could fill.

Eventually I made it to college through brains and determination, but there I found myself handicapped by a lack of social skills.  There were finally people I could talk to, but I didn't know how to socialize.  Somehow with all the "surviving a dysfunctional household that refused to admit it was dysfunctional" rigamorole I never picked up basic people skills.  I didn't know what to do about that, and I was too ashamed to admit it to ask for help.

Once again I was alone.

The other thing that I lacked was trust.  That's common with both abuse survivors and adoptees, but nobody told me this when I needed to hear it.  I didn't realize what I didn't have or what to do about it.

I screwed up a lot of potential friendships.

*deep breath*

If there's one complaint I have with my biological mother, it's that she thought so little about her own gifts, her own self-worth, that she thought any random person could take care of a child that shared her genes.  I have paid the price for that low level of self-regard, and not only by being sold to a couple who were ill-equipped to rear me.  For if she thought so little of herself and even less of me, then logically how could I be worth anything?

Forty-seven years later I can sit back, look at what I have and at what I've accomplished, and say to myself, "Buck up, it's not so bad."  But the thought still slithers through the rubble of my memories.

All people are created equal, but not interchangeable.  Modern adoption practice is based on the premise that you can fit square pegs in round holes if you start forcing  them when they're tiny and soft.  How is that not child abuse?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What's Wrong With Her? She's Gifted.

I was adopted anonymously by parents who wanted a normal, healthy baby.  For a while it looked like they'd got their wish, but by early elementary I started to show signs that something was wrong.  I'd had good grades briefly, then they had crashed.  I'd soon become inattentive and withdrawn.

In fourth grade, around 1975, the experts went looking for an explanation for my straight-D grades, inattentiveness, and poor social skills in school.  The suggestion that I might be gifted was made by my reading teacher, who noted that while I didn't pay attention in class and always had my head stuck in a book, it was a different book every day.

Her suggestion was met with universal derision.  How could a very smart child be such a failure?  But upon reflection it was decided that I might be retarded (the term was still used clinically at that time), and that I should be given an IQ test to see if I qualified for Special Education.  So I was abruptly pulled out of class and sat down at a bewildering exam the likes of which I'd never even imagined.

To the amazement of most, I barely squeaked in as "gifted".  Something had gone wrong!  I had cheated, or there had been a mixup involving the grading of the test.  So I was pulled out of class and given the test again, and the tester made to score the test on site in front of a committee of teachers.

But this time the test was not a complete surprise to me.  I had been through it once before, and knew what to expect.  This time I scored 20 points higher, over one standard deviation, easily clearing the "highly gifted" mark.

Oh, the consternation!  Such hooting, hollering, and carrying on you have never heard in your life!  I'm told the administration wanted to test me a third time with even more rigorous anti-cheating measures in place.  "You want to see how much higher she'll score next time?" snarked the gifted ed teacher.

(The answer, when another school system tested me four years later, was 30 points or 2 standard deviations higher than the second test.)

The testers tried to explain that only half of high-IQ students perform well in a regular classroom.  The other half become bored and disengaged.  That explanation only made the administration resent me for not being a team player.  However, with so much documentation staring them in the face it was felt that they risked a lawsuit if they didn't put in me in the gifted program (they didn't know my adoptive parents very well), so I was grudgingly allowed in on probation.

Of course, once I had access to people like myself doing things that actually interested us, school became a lot less boring and more engaging.  I paid more attention, and my grades improved.

It makes me angry that regional schools no longer have gifted ed programs.  Those schools have undiagnosed gifted children in them who are starving for the companionship of their peers and for an IQ-appropriate learning environment.  That doesn't do them any good, and by adding to their burdens instead of lightening them we take away their ability to do our country any good.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

So Much For Exposure Deadening the Pain

I thought dealing with my adoption paperwork would get easier with time.  It doesn't.  It's just as excruciating as ever.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First Book

My husband and I have begun turning the material he worked up for his junior high and high school science classes into a curriculum. Here's the first e-book:

Earth and Space

This is nine weeks worth of lesson plans and quizzes. We're planning to put out something more comprehensive at a later date, but this was what we could get out right now.

If you're interested in this sort of thing, please look it over and tell me what you think.

ETA:  Fixed the link.

Friday, March 28, 2014


There's been a breakthrough on finding my biological parents.  I don't want to say anything more right now -- I'm almost afraid to breathe for fear it will all blow away -- but progress has been made.

Right now I've got a whirlwind of emotions swirling around inside me.  I'm trying to process them now so they don't get in the way later on.  Cry now, be calm later.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Frankenfamily

I've been reading about other adoptees, trying to see how their childhood was like and not like my own.  In some ways mine was different, but there were all too many heartbreaking similarities.

Adoption Stereotype:  "One of these kids is not like the others." 

Many adoptees are brought into a family where everyone else is biologically related except them, so they stand out.  Not me. I didn't obviously stand out from my family because most of my family was adopted.  I, my sister, my father, and his sister were all adopted.  Adoptees made up 3/4s of my immediate family and 2/3s of the extended family I saw most often.  Aside from "white", there was no physical standard to adhere to or stand apart from.  Our ethnicities supposedly included English, French, Welsh, Irish, Scandinavian, and Native American.

Now you may think, "Great!  Adopted families have lots of love.  Your family must have had even more extra doses!"  Not exactly.  What we had were extra doses of dysfunction.  We were six random people with no ties at all between us other than living in close proximity.  My adoptive parents had married out of desperation, not love, so there wasn't even that to hold us together.

So it wasn't that I stood out from the norm, there was no norm, period.  Underneath my adoptive parents' overwhelming concern for social acceptance which led to both their marriage and our adoptions, anomie and disconnection were the norm.

I had no idea that families were even supposed to feel anything for each other, other than paying lip service to some idea of "love".  That revelation shocked me to the core when it came to me as an adult.

And there's the thought, "Well, at least you had other adoptees to talk to growing up."  Nope, not other than my sister.  My father and aunt were of a generation that did not talk about adoption AT ALL, denied knowing or wanting to know anything about their biological families, and discouraged us from bringing it up with them, each other, or anyone else.

In the privacy of my own skull I called us the Frankenfamily, a shambling monster created out of mutilated, unrelated bodies in a grotesque parody of normal life.

 I was reading about the Minnesota Twins Study when this passage really hit home:

MZT twins (identical twins reared together) have very similar—but not identical—personalities. People always assumed the similarities came from growing up in the same environment. But MZA (identical twins reared apart) twins also have very similar—but not identical—personalities, and there is no detectable difference in the degree of similarity between twins who grew up together and twins who grew up in different families—sometimes in different countries. The household, or the “shared environment,” has very little effect on personality, at least by the time people are adults.

Likewise, when biologically unrelated children are adopted and reared in the same home, they may resemble each other slightly when they are small, but as they grow up they become as different as complete strangers. It is well known that shared environment can have an early effect on IQ as well. “Virtual twins,” or unrelated children of the same age who grow up together, have a correlation of 0.3 for IQ at age five, which declines to 0.11 at age 11, and to essentially zero by adolescence.

This.  By the time we got to college my sister and I had nothing in common save for a shared unpleasant history.  We honestly had more in common with our room-mates, because at least we'd picked them out for ourselves.  Our whole family was just room-mates other people had picked at random for us.

There was an important way in which I stood out from the rest of the family, but it was subtle.  Most people didn't catch it at first, including me.  I'll talk about it later.

Part 2

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Don't Stop Believing

Searching is hard on the nerves, and my nerves are not well suited for it in the first place.  Most people feel good as a result of doing good, setting up a nice positive feedback loop.  PTSD steals that from me.  I do good, I feel good, and PTSD opens the floodgates for yet another crashing wave of despair.

So, for me, doing good is a negative feedback loop on the emotional level.  The only benefits I get out of doing good are moral and intellectual.  That has to be enough, because there's nothing else.

People accuse me of overthinking.  Duh, I wonder why.

But searching brings up all sorts of feelings of doubt and self-worthlessness.  After all, it is an objective fact that I was abandoned.  However good the reasons might have been at the time, I am completely justified in feeling -- what do I feel exactly?














Those are my feelings.  I will claim them and own them and not deny them or try to "get over them" or "walk away from them".

But those are the feelings of my younger self.  The person I am today is not alone, not isolated, not helpless.  I have to keep reminding myself of those facts.  The positive emotions they generate are obliterated by the tidal wave of negative emotions from the past, nonetheless, none the less, they are facts.

I have to hold on to those facts.

PTSD is endemic among adoptees.  That means this struggle must be common among adult adoptees.  Another "benefit" of the "win-win" of adoption.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mardi Gras 2014

I got word that my DNA sample reached the lab today.  Yippee!  I'm so excited!

You can expect to receive your results in the next 6-8 weeks


And that's what I'll be doing for Lent sorted out.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Light

I tried meditating again the other night.  For a few moments, instead of the usual pain, numbness, sadness, and/or despair; I felt calm.  It didn't last, but it was there for a short while.  That hasn't happened in a long time.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Babies and Bridal Bouquets: The Issue of Trust in Closed Adoptions

 One of the things I can't wrap my mind around about closed adoptions such as my own is how could you just throw a baby out to a random couple that you never get to meet and have any trust, any expectation at all, that the baby would be treated well?

How could you be that trusting?

What evidence did you have to support such a trust?

Yeah, there was a "home study" but that was a joke. My parents paid the study team to say good things about them, and they got their money's worth. The actual evidence in the house at that time (and there was actual evidence that could have been used against them) was discounted and the money was pocketed.

Granted, because I'm an adoptee I have severe trust issues but -- I don't get it.  I know girls were encouraged to be much more trusting in the 1950s - 1960s but really, there's less consideration shown towards who would end up with their baby than would be shown by someone purchasing a car.

Good grief, newborn babies aren't bridal bouquets. They're a lot more fragile and a lot more important -- in theory.  You can't just toss a baby backwards over your head and trust that one of a giggling horde of girls is going to catch it and take good care of it.  At least you shouldn't.

When I asked this question online, the answer I got back was that these young mothers were isolated from their communities into "maternity homes", stripped of their names and identities, and intimidated daily until they signed the papers.

There's a term for that process.  It's called "brainwashing".  Certainly the stories told by former maternity home inmates in The Girls Who Went Away and The Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative matches Singer's description of the sort of brainwashing from Cults in Our Midst:

  • Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how attempts to psychologically condition him or her are directed in a step-by-step manner.
    • Potential new members are led, step by step, through a behavioral-change program without being aware of the final agenda or full content of the group. The goal may be to make them deployable agents for the leadership, to get them to buy more courses, or get them to make a deeper commitment, depending on the leader's aim and desires.
  • Control the person's social and/or physical environment; especially control the person's time.
    • Through various methods, newer members are kept busy and led to think about the group and its content during as much of their waking time as possible.
  • Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person.
    • This is accomplished by getting members away from their normal social support group for a period of time and into an environment where the majority of people are already group members.
    • The members serve as models of the attitudes and behaviors of the group and speak an in-group language.
    • Strip members of their main occupation (quit jobs, drop out of school) or source of income or have them turn over their income (or the majority of) to the group.
    • Once the target is stripped of their usual support network, their confidence in their own perception erodes.
    • As the target's sense of powerlessness increases, their good judgment and understanding of the world are diminished. (ordinary view of reality is destabilized)
    • As the group attacks the target's previous worldview, it causes the target distress and inner confusion; yet they are not allowed to speak about this confusion or object to it - leadership suppresses questions and counters resistance.
    • This process is sped up if the targeted individual or individuals are kept tired - the cult will take deliberate actions to keep the target constantly busy.
  • Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person's former social identity.
    • the target's old beliefs and patterns of behavior are defined as irrelevant or evil. Leadership wants these old patterns eliminated, so the member must suppress them.
    • Members get positive feedback for conforming to the group's beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.
  • The group manipulates a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group's ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors.
    • Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group's beliefs, and compliance are rewarded while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection. Anyone who asks a question is made to feel there is something inherently disordered about them to be questioning.
    • The only feedback members get is from the group; they become totally dependent upon the rewards given by those who control the environment.
    • Members must learn varying amounts of new information about the beliefs of the group and the behaviors expected by the group.
    • The more complicated and filled with contradictions the new system is and the more difficult it is to learn, the more effective the conversion process will be.
    • Esteem and affection from peers is very important to new recruits. Approval comes from having the new member's behaviors and thought patterns conform to the models (members). Members' relationship with peers is threatened whenever they fail to learn or display new behaviors. Over time, the easy solution to the insecurity generated by the difficulties of learning the new system is to inhibit any display of doubts—new recruits simply acquiesce, affirm and act as if they do understand and accept the new ideology.
  • Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order.
    • The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leaders must have verbal ways of never losing.
    • Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain. If they do, the leaders allege the member is defective, not the organization or the beliefs.
    • The targeted individual is treated as always intellectually incorrect or unjust, while conversely the system, its leaders and its beliefs are always automatically, and by default, considered as absolutely just.
    • Conversion or remolding of the individual member happens in a closed system. As members learn to modify their behavior in order to be accepted in this closed system, they change—begin to speak the language—which serves to further isolate them from their prior beliefs and behaviors.
It is deeply ironic that a population which was watching The Manchurian Candidate and arguing over whether such things could really by done  to "our boys" in foreign countries were perfectly willing -- even grateful -- to have them done to "our girls" at home.

The main criticism of "brainwashing" is that the effects are short-term; however in this case it only had to last until the woman signed the relinquishment papers.

Then again, I suppose if the young women hadn't been kept ignorant and trained to be overly trusting they would have insisted on birth control.  I can only conclude that for all the overt fuss made over them white Boomer girls were raised like mushrooms -- kept in the dark and fed on garbage.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Geography of Pain

Different aspects of my life reverberate in different parts of my body.  Pain in my shoulders and upper arm muscles emanates from my now-deceased abusive adoptive mother, which still act up whenever I think about my childhood.  My arms are twinging -- Hi Mom!

But when I think about my adoption, the place I feel it is at the front and base of my neck, right on the windpipe.  It's as if someone is choking me, or trying to keep me from speaking.  I'm feeling a lot of that lately.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Traipsing Through Tar Pits

Been quiet lately.  Not that I haven't had things to say, there's an impressive stack of half-written posts in my "Drafts" folder about various things.  But I ran out of steam and into despair.  Stopped being agitated and started being overwhelmed.  Then just stopped.

My adoption paperwork has always knocked the wind out of my sails.  Just having a piece in front of me is enough to fold me up like a puppet whose strings have been cut.  All desire, energy, curiosity, anger, passion is gone, leaving behind a lethargic numbness.  Behind that numbness lies more pain than I can bear at this point.  Moving is like walking through tar, like I've been walking through tar for uncountable years and lack the strength to move another step.

With everything else stalled I tried reaching out to that pain the other day.  I know I've got to feel it in order to get through it.  I've got to let the beast clawing up my insides have it's say, but it isn't talking it's screaming.

It seemed to me that I was sitting Shiva, but I couldn't say for whom or what.

It wasn't long before I flinched.  Kinda like standing in front of a blast furnace door with no protective gear on.  That's a good way to get burned, and I did.

Didn't want to deal with anything after that for a while.  Eventually tried reaching out to it again just to see if it would be that bad a second time, but the "blast shields " were locked down so tight I couldn't even find the door.

Still, I got another form filled out.

Hope it gets easier with practice.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ulterior Motive

In order to understand my biological mother better I just got in a copy of The Girls Who Went Away:  The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children For Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v.Wade.  My 14yo daughter immediately asked to read it.

I can't imagine a better prophylactic.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Comfort Food

On a related note, coping with adoption trauma has expanded the range of dishes I cook.  I talk about that over here.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


I am having the worst time even getting started with this searching business.  Everything I need is inaccessible.  Even my email is currently busted.  Attempts to right things run into the most ridiculous strings of obstacles.  Gah.

Still, should have everything I need in a few weeks (knock on wood) (and some more wood just in case that wasn't real wood) (and that's definitely real wood because I cut it on the table saw).

Signing up for reunion searches is additionally slowed down by bursting into tears every time I pull one up.  How many people do this?  It's inconvenient and messy and hard as Hell on the nerves.

Also, my family informs me that I've been highly distracted and even more irritable all this holiday.  My husband sighed and said, "I wish we could just get you reunited so you could calm down and go back to normal."

And then I had to stumble over the words telling the poor man that that's when it will get worse.